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Fields & Applications Environmental, Food, Beverage & Agriculture

To Bee or Not to Bee

The European honey bee is susceptible to a mite with a rather frightening name: Varroa destructor. On the other hand, Eastern honey bees and African honey bees are naturally resistant to this parasite. But why? And given the crucial role that honey bees play in both ecosystem stability and human food production, can we intervene?

An international team from China, Ethiopia, and the US decided to dig into the biology at play, exposing half of each species to mites and then used tandem mass spectrometry to gather proteome profiles, identifying almost 2,000 proteins in the process. When comparing bee cohorts, the researchers found variation between those they had exposed to the mites and those they had not. And the two resistant bee species showed a significant increase of those proteins involved in immune responses and detoxification.

The authors plan to further examine the specific proteins involved and ultimately hope that beekeepers will be able to use this information to breed naturally resistant bees.

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  1. Y Fang et al., Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, 21 (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.mcpro.2022.100257
About the Author
Margot Lespade

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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